When a company cuts its teeth as the professional framer of art icons like Francis Bacon and David Hockney, you know there’s a bright future ahead and in the 1960s that's exactly what London fine art framers John Jones did.
Such promising beginnings were, indeed, foreshadows of things to come. Having framed exhibitions at the V&A, the Royal Academy and Christie’s, as well as receiving distinguished commissions from private clients, the North London-based company certainly had the lion’s share of covetable projects.
Though the company ultimately closed after 40 years of trading, John Jones’ expertise over the decades, from conservation to producing museum-quality art materials and collection care, is something that can continue to be appreciated. In their words, they "[left] the art world in a much better state than when [they] first started."
Joanne Quinn looks back on a conversation with the master framer on the benefits of good art framing and what that looks like.
Image Credit: Sara Cosgrove
How does framing affect a piece of art?
Framing an artwork isn’t just about style. When a work comes into our studio, we take time to assess its condition, considering how a frame can not only present a work most effectively, but also protect it from damage and degradation. It’s important to consider where the work will be displayed: is it going to stay in the same place for many years, will it be in a home or a gallery, will it travel, or will it be hung in a particular light? UV-light can cause damage to artworks, including fading. UV-filtering glazing can help protect artwork and anti-reflective glazing can minimise visually distracting reflections.
Then you can think about design, choosing a colour and material that works aesthetically, whether you want to make a statement with a bold frame, or something minimal that allows the designer artwork to stand out.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE ON HOW TO CHOOSE A FRAME FOR ART?
The frame is the link between your art and your interior. There are no particular rules about what frame to choose for your art, but it helps to think about your own personal style and what you want to achieve, much like choosing an outfit. Considering a mix of antique and ornate styles can work well with contemporary homes, for a more eclectic feel. In very minimal interiors we tend to advise people to use frames with a similar look, perhaps considering how to complement colours and materials in the room. Our welded frames are very popular with interior designers because they have a contemporary look that works with most settings, and we can hand-finish them in bespoke tones and finishes. We make a beautiful brass frame with a chemical finish in a burnished bronze that works very well with contemporary prints and black and white photography.
ARE THERE ANY TRENDS COMING THROUGH THIS YEAR FOR FRAMED ART PRINTS?
Over the past decade, people have become bolder in their choice of framing. Recently, our luxury interior design clients have asked us to help achieve bold statements with framing to create a focus point of a particular piece of art, or to complement crisp dark furniture or signature pieces. We create handcrafted gilded frames in different golds that are rubbed back to reveal a particular stain colour beneath for a unique and luxurious finish, and to pick out tones in the artwork. It’s amazing what can be achieved once you have licence to get creative!
FOR MORE INSPIRATION
TO MOUNT OR NOT TO MOUNT? WHEN IT COMES TO FRAMED PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT’S THE BEST SOLUTION?
When it comes to mounting an artwork, the materials and techniques used are of paramount importance. At John Jones we assess the most appropriate method for every single artwork we frame, and our Conservation Department works closely with our Artwork Presentation and Framing team to achieve the appropriate solution for the artwork. We use 100% cotton mount boards that are acid-free.
When it comes to deciding on the type of mount itself, it really depends on the piece that you are framing, and making sure it is sympathetic to the artwork and the tones within the image. For example, if you are looking at a vintage photograph you might want to consider the right tone of the mountboard to complement the period of the photograph. The thickness of the mount you use can add that something ‘extra’ in terms of design appeal. Float mounting prints allows the edge of the artwork to show without covering it with a window mount, this works well when there is a natural raw edge to the paper, or you might want to allow a bleed if you want to keep an artist’s signature in view. Many of the contemporary artists we currently work with produce photography on a large scale so dry mounting (heat sealing work to a substrate) offers a contemporary, flat and smooth aesthetic. Our Conservation department offers an archival method of slot-mounting photographs, for artists and collector clients who are concerned about reversibility.
WHAT ARE SOME UNEXPECTED PLACES TO HANG FRAMED WALL ART THAT WORK REALLY WELL?
It’s always wonderful to see interior design settings that have considered unusual art installations. Often it’s about working with the architecture in the space that really creates impact, such as hanging one iconic print with a dramatic frame on one wall, juxtaposed with a salon-style hang of smaller artworks framed simply, to add interest to a room and a collection. Artworks hung in stairways is a great way of using that space creatively and can create an illusion that the space is larger, as it carries the eye up the stairs. When hanging a series of artworks of the same size, such as this set of Romero prints by Quintessa, a grid formation looks fantastic. Ensure the gaps between the artwork are all equal and avoid lining the top or bottom of an artwork with door frames and furniture in the room. This may sound like a logical idea, but the result often appears awkward and unnatural.
There are some ‘don’ts’ to consider such as hanging artwork over direct heat sources like radiators and electric heaters. Fluctuations in heat and relative humidity can cause long-term damage to an artwork. Avoid installing artwork in humid conditions such as bathrooms, spaces with poor ventilation and steamy kitchen areas, as raised levels of humidity can damage artwork significantly over time as well.
Above all, it’s important to have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment. Moving your artwork around from time to time can refresh the look of a room, and allow you to appreciate your art in a new position.
Image Credit: Shalini Misra
Top tips for framing art
1. HAVE YOUR ART COLLECTION’S CONDITION CHECKED REGULARLY
Don’t assume just because an artwork is already framed that it is protected. If a work is framed using inappropriate materials, acid migration can take place causing yellowing and degradation of artwork. Work with your framer to ensure the artwork is best protected with the most up-to-date framing materials, such as acid-free cotton mount boards and UV protective glazing.
2. INSTALL FRAMED ART AT THE RIGHT HEIGHT
This is of paramount importance. We follow a museum guideline of 156cm from the floor to the centre of the image. This may have to be adjusted depending on the size of your wall space.
3. CHOOSING A FRAME ISN’T JUST ABOUT STYLE, COLOUR AND MATERIAL
When deciding how to frame fine art prints, such as this pair of Litho Gizmo prints from Eichholtz, think about where the work is going to be hung. Avoid hanging artwork in direct sunlight as ultraviolet light rays can damage artwork and also cause glaring reflections which disrupt the visual appearance of the work. Choose glazing carefully, think about anti-reflective and UV protective options.
4. CONSIDER THE COLOUR SCHEME OF YOUR SPACE CAREFULLY
Before selecting which room to hang your artwork in, think about your colour scheme. The materials and colours in your fine art and framing can have a dramatic impact upon an interior design. Are you looking to create harmony or stark contrast?
5. CONSIDER THE LIGHT LEVELS
Artworks subjected to daylight can suffer fading, discolouration and embrittlement as a consequence. If you wish to directly light a work of art, use museum-grade lighting that doesn’t emit damaging light rays on the ultraviolet and infrared range of the spectrum. We work with lighting specialists such as TM Lighting who make conservation-friendly lighting that lights artwork beautifully and also considers discrete and sophisticated design. And whenever a room where art is on display is not in use, switch off the lights and draw the curtains!
6. BE SENSITIVE TO THE PERIOD OF THE ARTWORK
Knowledge of a work’s past can be a useful design guide for your framing style, but you can also contrast contemporary frames with traditional art. Something contemporary such as the Night and Day painting from Pictoclub would suit a simple frame whereas a more ornate frame can be paired with a more classic piece of art.
7. Don’t overcrowd
Don’t be tempted to overcrowd spaces with multiple large-scale dramatic pieces that will compete for attention. The artworks should be positioned to complement both one another and the overall mood of the room.
8. Think about humidity
Avoid installing artwork in humid conditions such as bathrooms, spaces with poor ventilation and steamy kitchen areas. Fluctuations in and raised levels of humidity can damage artwork significantly over time, potentially ruining pieces of financial, cultural or personal value.
For more inspiration for art to add to your home gallery, browse our designer wall art and collections by artists such as Slim Aarons and more. If you need a bit more inspiration or information about art collecting and how to care for your at-home art collection, we have plenty of blog posts for you to read including How to Collect Art Like a Professional and How to Light Your Artwork in Your Home.
Header image credit: Finchatton